Howard Kurtz was fired this week from The Daily Beast by executive editor Tina Brown after he published a column on Jason Collins that had to be retracted. Appearing for the first time since the firing on his Sunday CNN show Reliable Sources, Kurtz made an open apology for the massive goof.
Jason Collins recently made NBA history by coming out as a gay athlete while still under contract by the pro organization. As I reported last week, Kurtz got into trouble for a sloppily written piece called, “Jason Collins’ Other Secret,” in which Kurtz claimed that Collins had concealed his eight-years long involvement with a woman.
Far from hiding his ex-fiancé, the Collins statement in Sports Illustrated actually said:
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way…”
So it’s a pretty big blunder, since it suggested that Howard Kurtz had not even bothered to read what Collins had to say before slamming him as a liar.
As a media critic and the host of something called Reliable Sources, you’re expected to be…well…at least somewhat reliable.
Kurtz had little choice but to open his Sunday show by acknowledging the problem:
“This time, the media mistake was mine. A big one… I read it too fast and carelessly missed that Jason Collins said he was engaged previously to a woman — and then wrote and commented that he was wrong to keep that from readers, when I was in fact the one who was wrong. My logic about what happened between Jason Collins and his former fiancee and what was or wasn’t disclosed, in hindsight, well, I was wrong to even raise that issue. It showed a lack of sensitivity…”
He was then grilled for an agonizing 13 minutes by two other media analyists, Politico‘s Dylan Byers and NPR’s David Folkenflik.
At times, Kurtz sounded defensive: “In my career, I have written, spoken, blogged millions of words…But there are times, being a human being, when I have slipped up.”
CNN has already said that they won’t fire Howard Kurtz over the incident.
[Howard Kurtz photo by David Shankbone via Wikipedia Commons]